SCHUMACHER et al.
CITY OF ROSWELL et al.
BARNES, P. J., RICKMAN and SELF, JJ.
Barnes, Presiding Judge.
Shumacher and Mike Nyden are property owners in the City of
Roswell who brought this lawsuit challenging the City's
adoption of a new zoning ordinance called the Unified
Development Code (the "Code") on procedural due
process and other grounds. The trial court granted the
City's motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed
all of the plaintiffs' claims. The plaintiffs filed a
direct appeal challenging only the dismissal of their
procedural due process claims, and after the appeal was
transferred to this Court from the Supreme Court of Georgia,
we dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction on the
ground that the lawsuit was a "zoning case"
requiring an application for discretionary appeal. See
Schumacher v. City of Roswell, 337 Ga.App. 268,
268-273 (787 S.E.2d 254) (2016). The Supreme Court granted
certiorari and reversed our decision to dismiss the appeal,
holding that "a stand-alone lawsuit challenging an
ordinance as facially invalid – unconnected to any
individualized determination about a particular property
– is not a 'zoning case' . . . and does not
require an application under OCGA § 5-6-35."
Schumacher v. City of Roswell, 301 Ga. 635, 635 (803
S.E.2d 66) (2017). Accordingly, we vacate our previous
opinion dismissing the appeal and adopt the Supreme
Court's opinion as our own.
address the substantive legal question raised by the parties:
whether the trial court erred in dismissing the
plaintiffs' procedural due process claims based on the
adequate state remedy doctrine. For the reasons discussed
more fully below, we conclude that the trial court committed
no error because Georgia's Zoning Procedures Law, OCGA
§ 36-66-1 et seq. (the "ZPL"), provided the
plaintiffs with an adequate state remedy for alleged
procedural irregularities committed by the City in the
adoption of the Code. Therefore, we affirm.
factual history of this case was summarized by our Supreme
As alleged in their amended complaint, [the plaintiffs] are
citizens and taxpayers of the City . . . and own residential
property there. In February 2014, after conducting two public
meetings, the Council of the City of Roswell ("City
Council") approved a new zoning ordinance – the
Code – and a new zoning map. The Code substantially
replaced the City's existing zoning ordinance.
As detailed in meeting minutes attached as an exhibit to the
answer to the amended complaint, Plaintiff Schumacher had
attended and participated in the first public meeting,
voicing his concerns about the proposed Code. In particular,
he expressed his concerns about density and the public's
ability to understand the proposal. At the second public
meeting, a letter from Schumacher's counsel was read into
the record. The letter argued that the City had not complied
with state statutory procedures for adoption of a new zoning
code. Among other things, the letter argued that the City had
violated the law by inaccurately telling the public that the
proposal would not change existing property rights. In
neither meeting did Schumacher or his counsel address any
issue with the zoning of any particular parcel of property.
Schumaker, 301 Ga. at 635-636.
the City Council adopted the Code and a new zoning map, the
plaintiffs sued the City, challenging the manner in which the
City Council had approved the UDC and map. The
plaintiffs' complaint, as later amended, alleged, among
other things, that the adoption of the Code violated the ZPL
and the plaintiffs' procedural due process rights under
the United States and Georgia Constitutions. The complaint
further alleged that the Code adversely affected each
plaintiff's property and sought a declaratory judgment
that the Code was void and unenforceable as illegally
enacted, an injunction prohibiting its enforcement, and
attorney fees and costs.
City answered, denying the plaintiffs' allegations. The
City attached and incorporated by reference to its answer
certified copies of the Code, the new zoning map, and the
minutes of the two City Council meetings in which the Code
and map were discussed and approved. Additionally, the City
filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in which it
sought the dismissal of all of the plaintiffs' claims.
The plaintiffs opposed the City's motion and filed a
motion for interlocutory injunction to prohibit enforcement
of the Code during the litigation.
conducting a hearing, the trial court entered an order
granting the City's motion for judgment on the pleadings
on all of the plaintiffs' claims and denying the
plaintiffs motion for an interlocutory injunction as moot.
The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' procedural due
process claims on the ground that the ZPL provided the
plaintiffs an adequate state remedy for any alleged failure
by the City Council to provide them with sufficient notice
and an opportunity to be heard before enacting the Code. The
trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' ZPL claim on the
ground that, based on the pleadings before the court
(including the complaint, answer, and exhibits attached to
the answer), the City had complied with the notice and public
hearing requirements imposed by the ZPL in adopting the Code.
plaintiffs contend on appeal that the trial court erred in
entering judgment on the pleadings on their procedural due
On appeal from a grant of judgment on the pleadings, we
conduct a de novo review of the trial court's order to
determine whether the undisputed facts appearing from the
pleadings entitle the movant to judgment as a matter of law.
The grant of a motion for judgment on the pleadings under
OCGA § 9-11-12 (c) is proper only where there is a
complete failure to state a cause of action or defense. For
purposes of the motion, all well-pleaded material allegations
by the nonmovant are taken as true, and all denials by the
movant are taken as false. But the trial court need not adopt
a party's legal conclusions based on these facts. . . .
Moreover, in considering a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, a trial court may consider exhibits attached to
and incorporated into the pleadings, including exhibits
attached to the complaint or the answer.
and punctuation omitted.) Caldwell v. Church, 341
Ga.App. 852, 855-856 (2), 857 (2) (a) (802 S.E.2d 835)
(2017). Guided by this standard of review, we conclude that
the trial court committed no error in dismissing the
plaintiffs' procedural due process claims because
Georgia's Zoning Procedures Law provided the plaintiffs
with an ...